East Sussex actor Jim Whelan stars in new Rob Lowe cop drama on ITV

Rob Lowe plays Wild Bill. Credit: KUDOS/Itv
Rob Lowe plays Wild Bill. Credit: KUDOS/Itv

East Sussex TV actor Jim Whelan, who is well known for playing The Reverend Todd in Coronation Street, is performing in ITV’s brand new drama Wild Bill.

The star of the show and the executive producer is Hollywood actor Rob Lowe. He plays high-flying US police officer Bill Hixon who becomes chief constable of the East Lincolnshire Police Force.

East Sussex actor Jim Whelan plays Tony Cobley

East Sussex actor Jim Whelan plays Tony Cobley

Relocating to Boston (UK) with his teenage daughter Kelsey (Aloreia Spencer), the American cop hopes to make a difference to the county’s crime figures. But the local community is not impressed by Bill or his interest in statistics and algorithms.

The weekly series begins tonight (Wednesday, June 12) on ITV at 9pm. It also stars Bronwyn James, Anjli Mohindra, Tony Pitts, Rachael Stirling, Steffan Rhodri, Divian Ladwa and Anthony Flanagan.

Wild Bill is a gripping fish-out-of-water tale and contains elements of both comedy and drama, says Jim.

“It is a bit of both and it’s questionable whether it will go more to drama than comedy,” he explains. “But at the moment, as far as I know, it’s straight in the middle. It’s a quirky, off-beat drama that includes comedy but certainly there’s a lot of serious stuff and there are six episodes with six different stories in them.”

Rob Lowe stars in Wild Bill with Anjli Mohindra and Angela Griffin. Credit KUDOS/Itv

Rob Lowe stars in Wild Bill with Anjli Mohindra and Angela Griffin. Credit KUDOS/Itv

Jim, who lives in Eastbourne, has had a 50-year career in acting and has appeared as a recurring character in Emmerdale, The Royle Family, Last of the Summer Wine and Home Fires. He is active in the East Sussex community and in March was the guest speaker at Bexhill, Hastings and Rother Parkinson Society’s monthly meeting at St. Augustines Church.

Jim says that for this programme he’s playing Tony Cobley, a rather eccentric pensioner who is the father of regular character PC Sean Cobley, played by Anthony Flanagan.

“He’s quirky and a little bit lascivious in his old age,” Jim says. “I’m calling bingo in one scene and trying to chat up older ladies. He’s a bit deluded too. He does paintings and all that kind of thing, which he thinks are brilliant and they’re absolutely rubbish.”

The character most likely won’t appear until a later episode but, without wanting to spoil anything, Jim says his scenes are integral to the plot.

As for the experience of working on the programme, Jim says it was fabulous.

And did he get to meet Rob Lowe?

“I did get to meet him but it was a very brief, business-like interaction,” Jim laughs. “I can’t for a minute say that we’re best mates,”

”When we were in the bingo hall he was interacting with the background artists who were there, the older people, and it was nice, so he’s a nice man,” he continues. “I watched some scenes and he was very impressive and absolutely professional.”

Jim hasn’t seen any of the finished product yet but he’s looking forward to watching the drama unfold.

“The beauty of this series, if it comes across, is that Rob Lowe’s character has come over here and said ‘I’m going to take it over and shake it up’...and the characters in Lincolnshire don’t really like it.”

He continues: “I’m looking forward to seeing how much Bill will be accepted as an American coming over to take over a provincial police force. And although it sounds far fetched about ten years ago Cameron wanted a New York police chief to come to England and take over the Met. I didn’t realise that.”

“So It’s not as far fetched as it seems.”

Wild Bill is co-produced by 42 (Watership Down, Welcome To The Punch, Traitors), MultiStory Media (Come Dine With Me, Paul O’Grady: For The Love Of Dogs) and Anonymous Content (13 Reasons Why, Maniac).

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